King & Spalding prepares for Singapore launch

US firm King & Spalding has announced plans to open its first office in Asia.

The firm has applied for government approval to open in Singapore, as it looks to expand its energy and international arbitration capabilities in the region.

If given the go-ahead, the new office will be run by global energy head Philip Weems, the former managing partner of the firm’s Dubai, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi offices.

He will be joined by corporate partner Daniel Rogers and international arbitration partner John Savage, the former head of Shearman & Sterling’s Asia disputes team.

“John Savage is recognised as one of the leading arbitration practitioners in Asia, and his deep roots in Singapore and the region add another critical dimension to our global commercial disputes practice,” said King & Spalding chairman Robert Hays.

“Singapore’s establishment as a key international arbitration centre for commercial disputes in Asia, the Indian subcontinent and Australia, coupled with a steady increase in energy and infrastructure investment throughout the region, make it a compelling centre for the continued expansion of our energy and arbitration practices.”

Weems said: “Our international energy clients are recognising Singapore’s advantages as a stepping-off point for energy-related transactions and other activities across Asia.

He added: “Establishing an office in Singapore is a natural consequence of our expanding portfolio of client matters and our intense focus on being where clients need us.”

The new office is the firm’s latest attempt to expand its global footprint. Last year the firm opened an office in Paris (27 April 2009), and in June this year it hired a five-lawyer energy transactions team from Hogan Lovells, led by the head of legacy firm Hogan & Hartson’s London office Gary Pegg (16 June 2010).